Hispanic Christian leader dies suddenly in Guatemala
Jorge Osorio’s influence felt in East County, Latin America
By Rob Cullivan
The Gresham Outlook, Oct 25, 2008
Jorge Osorio talks to a group of children in Mexico. The Portland resident was instrumental in founding Hispanic churches throughout the Americas, including Gresham.
Donna Osorio, Jorge Osorio’s wife, recalls he could speak with ease equally to rich and poor alike about Jesus Christ and would do anything to keep a church going, including vacuuming its floors.
“There wasn’t a task too big or too small,” she says.
Jorge, 59, unexpectedly died on Oct. 13 from complications related to an intestinal infection.
At the time of his death, Jorge was visiting his family in his native Guatemala and was exploring opportunities for establishing churches there.
Jorge founded Hispanics for Christ, which established churches throughout the Americas. Among the congregations he played a role in establishing is Comunidad Cristiana, which meets at Grace Community Church, 800 S.E. Hogan Ave.
Jorge also mentored a number of pastors serving area Hispanics, and was a beloved figure among many East County church leaders. Those leaders include the Rev. Gregorio Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Cristo Por Su Mundo, a Hispanic congregation meeting at Smith Memorial Presbyterian Church in Fairview.
Gonzalez studied under Jorge, and recalls his teacher, like Jesus, washing the feet of his “disciples” or, in this case, his students once during a class.
“He was trying to teach us how Jesus did it. Even though he was the king, he had to serve all of us. Whatever position you have, you have to be like Jesus.”
At one time a budding Marxist, Jorge converted to Christianity, in part, because his mother had done so not long before she died.
After moving to Portland, Jorge decided to attend Multnomah Bible College in the 1970s, and boarded at the home of the mother of Jim Eliot, a famed missionary killed in Ecuador in 1956.
While living in the Elliot home, Jorge was recruited by Elliot’s brother, Bert, a missionary in Peru, to join the missions there upon graduation. Meanwhile, Donna, a fellow student, met Jorge in 1977.
“He was a very humble, sweet person,” she says. “He was a person of deep conviction and faith. And I thought he was very handsome,” she adds with a chuckle. Two years later they married and moved to Peru.
Back to Oregon
In the mid-1990s, the missionary couple moved back to Oregon. Pastor Jim Erb of Hollyview Family Fellowship in Damascus said an association of Baptist churches, including his, hired Jorge because the area’s Hispanic population was growing.
Someone was needed to establish churches to serve Spanish speakers. The association’s work with Jorge eventually led to the creation of Hispanics for Christ.
“God has had his sovereign hand on Jorge and this ministry, and it has reached places we never could have imagined 12 years ago,” Erb says, noting the ministry has worked in Mexico and Peru as well as the United States.
Donna says her husband generally began a church in someone’s home, where Bible studies and informal discussions could be held.
“Jorge believed in a simple approach to church planning, that didn’t require huge planning.”
The Rev. Geoff Hartt, treasurer of Hispanics for Christ, described Jorge as an exemplary evangelist.
“I never heard him have a judgmental word about anyone ever,” Hartt says. “He accepted people the way they were while wanting to lead them to a better place.”
A memorial service for Jorge Osorio will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, in Central Bible Church, 8815 N.E. Glisan St., Portland.
Donations to help the family may be sent to Hispanics for Christ, 7412 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, 97217. For more information, visit hispanicsforchrist.org.
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